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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

    Hello, and welcome to my website! I'm Derek Gale, photography trainer and Fine Art photographer based in Worcester.

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

    For beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision take a look at the Fine Art Photography pages.

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It’s only words…

All around us there are words.  Our environment is full of notices, adverts, signs (mostly directing, allowing or forbidding!) and other visual paraphenalia.  These words can make for interesting and thought-provoking images, especially if you deliberately remove the context.  Here’s an example…


Who, or what, or where, is “VERY OLD”?   Who carved the letters, and why?  The image of just the words and sky doesn’t actually help you answer these questions, so you need to let your imagination take over.

Sometimes the sign seems odd even when you know the context.  At first glance this sign is laughing at you – like the Nelson Muntz character in “The Simpsons”.  It’s actually to indicate the presence of a “ha ha” or sunken ditch to keep animals from straying.  Use a low angle to remove the background and you have an instant mystery.


Finally, here’s an Extra image.  Like the other two images it works well because it’s been simplified with a low angle, and a plain blue sky.


As a project you could think of a well known phrase, go round looking for the words in that phrase, take a series of images of those words, and then put together a composite image showing the whole phrase.   Try it!

To really get your photographic ideas going, why not come to one of our Training courses? Check out

Here comes the sun

In the old days of photography, Kodak’s advice about taking pictures was to shoot with the sun behind you.  This was because lenses weren’t very good, and film was not very sensitive to light, so you needed lots of light on the subject.  This resulted in nice, well exposed, shots of your friends and family squinting into the sun!!  Nowadays, with huge advances in lens and sensor technology, you can ignore Kodak’s advice and shoot directly towards the light.  It’s called “contre jour” photography.  With care* you can get great images.

Here I’ve used the shape of the Millenium Bridge at Gateshead, to block the sun and give a super highlight to the image.


In some images, such as this shot of a kite at Wroughton Kite Festival, this technique gives an almost black and white effect, because you are reducing the range of tones captured.


Of course, if you convert the image to black and white, and increase the contrast in Photoshop, you can use the strong silhouettes to give a powerful composition.


Finally, even the modern-day equivalent of Kodak’s “Box Brownie” camera; a compact digital camera, performs surprisingly well for “contre jour” photography.  This image of a child on a climbing frame was taken with a Panasonic Lumix FX-500.


I dropped down to get a nice low angle, and used part of the structure to prevent sunlight hitting the lens directly.

We cover this technique, and others, in our “The Creative Eye” photographic course/workshop.  Have a look at our Training and Treks page for more info at



* You need to be careful with this type of creative photography to ensure that you never look directly at the sun!

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Here comes the sun | Adobe TutorialsSeptember 3, 2009 - 3:04 pm

[…] In the old days of photography, Kodak’s advice about taking pictures was to shoot with the sun behind you.  This was because lenses weren’t very good, and film was not very sensitive to light, so you needed lots of light on the subject.  This resulted in nice, well exposed, shots of your friends and family squinting into the sun!!  Nowadays, with huge advances in lens and sensor technology, you can ignore Kodak’s advice and shoot directly towards the light.  It’s called “contre jour” photography Read more from the original source: Here comes the sun […]

A right Royal event!

Avid readers of the blog will know that I was due to run a “Creative Eye” photographic workshop at the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) HQ in Bath.  Well, it’s happened and was very enjoyable!

We had a full group of 10, and they had a good range of photographic skill and experience.  All came with a willingness to learn, and have fun while they did it.  Here they are, photographed during the “creative use of camera shake” exercise…

RPS camera shake exercise

Fenton House, the RPS HQ, has an excellent range of spaces, and lots of photographic opportunities.  One of the training course exercises involved looking for textures and patterns, and we were spoilt for choice.

RPS pattern 2

This shot of a Venetian blind is an optical illusion.  It is rectangular, with parallel sides, but your eyes keep wanting to make the diagonal lines straighter, so the image edges start to look crooked.  Try looking at it for a minute!

One of the exercises involved the group taking a “creative group photo”; this was hilarious.  They arranged themselves on the floor of Fenton House’s exhibition space, and let their feet do the talking.

RPS group exercise

All in all I, and more importantly the delegates, thought the “Creative Eye” workshop went really well.  We are planning to run this photographic workshop with the RPS again next year, so keep your eyes on the RPS website, or on our Training and Treks pages.

The more the merrier?

It’s fascinating to me that the first question anyone ever asks me about my digital camera is, “How many megapixels has it got?”.  To me this proves the power of marketing. Cameras are sold on the basis that “more pixels = better quality pictures”.   True??   Not necessarily, but we don’t have time for that discussion today.  Perhaps it’s more to do with the person behind the camera…

3 mega pixels

Let me give you some examples.  The image above was shot with a 3 megapixel camera, in the days when a 3 megapixel camera wasn’t a kid’s toy!   Times soon changed, and the “next big thing” was a 6 megapixel camera.

6 megapixels

6 megapixels was enough for me to print images up to at least 36 x 24 inches.  Most folks don’t want anything much bigger than that, even for family portraits.  Nowadays a typical digital camera is something like 10 megapixels.  That’s more than enough for most people!

10 megapixels

You should have noticed the the style of the images is similar, because they were all taken by the same photographer – me! 

Whatever the megapixels of your camera, the most important thing to remember is to use all the pixels you’ve got.  Fill the frame with your chosen subject, so you don’t have to crop the image very much to get the final print size you want.  It’s also worth remembering that photographic training is much more about the person than the camera, so you can benefit from a creative photography course or Photo Trek, regardless of what sort of camera you  have.

Calling all Trekkies

On Saturday 8th the day dawned bright and sunny.  This boded well for our first Photo Trek at Buscot Park, near Faringdon.  Given what the weather on Thursday had been like, I was very relieved.  On Thursday I was photographing a group of people in a giant “conservatory”, and it was raining on to the roof so hard that they couldn’t hear me! 

Anyway, Saturday was fab; a great place, great weather, and a great group of people.  Thanks again to Lord Faringdon for allowing us to run Treks at Buscot.

Buscot gates

At 2pm the elegant gates to Buscot Park’s gardens were opened and our Photo Trek was underway.  We started the Photo Trek near the stables/tea rooms and experimented with use of wide-angle lenses for architecture, exposure compensation, and with long exposures to make interesting blur patterns and swirls.  From there we moved on to the Four Seasons Walled Garden, one of Buscot’s highlights.

Buscot Trekkies 1

The garden has beds that are absolutely full of plants in wide variety and interesting juxtaposition; yellow courgettes next to flowers, runner beans climbing up apple trees, and photographically it’s hard to know where to start.  One good rule is “Keep it Simple”, so we concentrated on simple compositions with one flower, but showing the mass of plants in the background in a nicely out of focus way.

Buscot sea holly & rose

In the walled gardens there is a circular fish/lily pond.  Whilst we were there someone found a white feather, and I demonstrated the use of a cobweb as a way to support it for photography.  Here it is shot in macro mode on a Lumix compact digital camera, and it works a treat!

Buscot feather

From the walled garden we made our way up the steps to the lawn in front of the house, and then down to one of Buscot’s other highlights, the Harold Peto Water Gardens.  It’s always worth trying different viewpoints for your images, and one participant dangled his camera by its strap to get a water’s eye image of the ponds.  As with the walled gardens the simple images were most successful, like this leaf floating on the pond.

Buscot leaf

All too soon we had to wend our way back to our Photo Trek starting point, pausing to shoot the very smug-looking frog in the pond at the back of Buscot House.

Buscot Trekkies 2

Buscot frog

The feedback from the group was excellent, and I had a great time too.  We’re planning lots of other Photo Treks next year, including more at Buscot, so do come along.  You can find out about our Photo Treks and other Photographic  Training on our website at

Looking forward to seeing you soon!